A Little Knowledge…

The Gadget Show is on and VecchioJo shouts at the television, like an old man

by VecchioJo   May 3, 2012  


No-one could ever accuse the Gadget Show on Channel 5 of serious in-depth reviews in their reportage of electro wizardry and boys toys. The programme is a guilty pleasurable way to blob out and enjoy the techno-japery, especially when in that post-ride mid-muffin brain mush, but sometimes the gogglebox gets it so spectacularly wrong that it has you spitting tea at the screen and sending the better half to the bureau to fetch the Parker and Basildon Bond to pen a strongly worded letter.

In quite a profligate little jolly to the Mediterranean the Gadget Show team take it upon themselves to test exotic road bikes, in their words the pedal powered equivalent of F1 cars, around the Monaco GP circuit. Showcasing the Onix Azzuro that road.cc have already had a go on and the Factor 001, some would say that it would be unfair to pitch a cookie-cutter carbon-fibre Chinese frame (only 'cookie cutter on the outside I think Onix would say - ed) against a Formula 1 derived prototype bike that costs ten times as much, but as the bikes were ridden for the mere two miles round the Monaco GP circuit, in trainers, then it was never going to be the most comprehensive test.

Of course the Gadget Show is designed to appeal to a wide audience so there’s not the brain-power or attention span to plough deep into the technology, but the presenters do their best and make sure they throw in enough buzz-words to keep the tech quotient high, “computer designed”, “state of the art”, “high-grade”, “light-weight”, “just too advanced”, “amazingly stiff and comfortable” “just like an F1 car” and, erm, “this is when you need all this carbon”, all of which is mostly meaningless and there just to fluff the sofa-riding viewer (yeah cos us bike journos never use techno-babble… oh, hang on - ed).

But that doesn’t mean the show can make really really basic errors clearly visible to even the only slightly trained eye. Riding a £22,000 bike in sneakers, with the saddle too high is enough to make the most fair-weather cyclist wince, and the male presenter's unique descending and cornering technique has eyebrows raised amongst those that have ridden just a little bit further than down the shops (each to his own Jo, each to his own - ed). Then there’s the comedy stance of Jasons helmet, and the somewhat rakish angle of the handlebars on that Onyx that seems to get worse throughout the piece, both of which face a chorus of teeth sucking.

But the absolute hands-down winner in this 5 minutes of life that you’ll never get back has to be getting the front wheel in the Factor 001 the wrong way round. Not such a problem with a normal road bike wheel but when that wheel has a disc brake then it can cause some problems. It doesn’t matter if the braking system has titanium pipes and carbon fibre discs, even if they do look like steel, if the brake calipers are clamping against thin air it isn’t going to help. No wonder Polly had to “play safe” with the “cutting edge braking system” on the descent.

When you can spot a whole herd of errors in a feature that you know something about it does make you wonder about the veracity of the rest of the programme, even if it is just visual and cerebral bubble-gum there’s no need for fake science, mis-information and just plain cringeworthy wrong.

“Dear Gadget Show, why, why, why, why, why……”


34 user comments

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I'm glad it wasn't just me who found the whole thing very uncomfortable. There seemed no attempt to get the fitting of the bikes right - even adjusting the saddle to the correct height would have made them look a little less uncomfortable. Also, both the presenters didnt seem to know where the gears were as they were really struggling in a too big a gear on what looked like a pretty average rise and then pedalling like mad when they reached the bottom.
Its a shame because ONIX are a nice bike.

posted by Some Fella [908 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 12:43


Yeah but, despite all that, I think Polly is lovely.

It's all about the size of your cog.

TR McGowran's picture

posted by TR McGowran [97 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 12:47


comedy gold - I nearly didn't read this article to the end, but I'm glad I did

posted by fluffy_mike [94 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 12:47


Not the best review, I agree, and to the regular cyclist, yes there were glaring errors (but don't Halfords put wheels in the wrong way every day?)
What is more importaint is, BIKES ON TV!!! There is a revolution going on, and we should be embracing all aspects of it, not mocking others because we have more knowledge.

palefish360's picture

posted by palefish360 [36 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 12:52


Nah, get on with the mockery!

posted by Mountainboy [85 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 13:00


Odd choice of helmets for the road as well

RhysW's picture

posted by RhysW [83 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 13:06


I never understand the logic of these tests, like the one they did before pitching the carbon Trek Session against a low budget big box store bike. No non-cyclist watching this show is going to drop £22k on a bike, they probably wouldn't even be motivated to drop the £2-3k the Onix would cost, and given the cringe inducing nature of their 'reviews' I can't imagine any cyclist running to their computer, credit card in hand to place an order.

There seems to be an opinion that any exposure is good exposure but I just can't agree. Any *relevant* or *worthwhile* exposure is good, but asking the Gadget Show to review bikes is like asking Top Gear to review computers. Just because they could make it go doesn't mean that they have any clue what they're doing and most likely won't convert viewers into buyers.

Now, if somebody could stop bike brands from giving 'Wired' bikes to review, I'd be really grateful. They showed how knowledgeable they are when they 'tested' a $6k Gary Fisher Superfly 100 in the landscaped park outside their office while wearing jeans and brogues.

posted by Velo_Alex [71 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 13:09


palefish360 wrote:
Not the best review, I agree, and to the regular cyclist, yes there were glaring errors (but don't Halfords put wheels in the wrong way every day?)
What is more importaint is, BIKES ON TV!!! There is a revolution going on, and we should be embracing all aspects of it, not mocking others because we have more knowledge.

Totally agree, they might not have known what they we're talking about but it cast cycling as fun cool and exciting to a much broader audience.
We need more of this.

posted by belgravedave [254 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 13:11


I want to watch it now!

(and not just* to see Polly in Lycra)


posted by GavinT [78 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 13:12


My brother works for BF1 Systems, who designed and built the Factor to prove what is possible with the technology and build processes available nowadays. Bear in mind that BF1 make componentry for the leading F1 teams in Britain. He wasn't particularly happy about the comments from that bimbo I can tell you, particularly a) the brakes not being good enough (explained in the article above) and b) the steering feeling too twitchy. Why in the name of hell didn't they use even amateur cyclists who could give a realistic view?

They completely missed out on the fact that the computer is an intrinsic component of the bike, is the main selling point and gives the rider (and team car) full live updates on power being produced at each crank, rotational velocity of each crank, power at the rear hub etc...

My head nearly exploded

Chiggety check yourself before you wreck yourself

posted by therealsmallboy [130 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 14:01


speechless and angry. 2 bikes featured, one bike has no relavence to anyone who is looking to buy a bike or interested in road bikes as a) it's not strictly a road bike b) it's 22 grand, and the other is a cheap chinese frame that would have been 'exotic' and 'advanced' about 6 years ago. Either the researchers on this program are 17 years old and know little about how to do their job, or they took a wad of cash.

posted by Cervelo12 [78 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 14:50


What a farce, Jason is normally alright when i've seen him do cycling article's before, but this one takes the piss.

I mean, even a 5 year old could notice that if the disc is not going into the braking system, there is something wrong there. Why do it in trainers?

That hill climb was a gentle rise in my book, if you want a race track with a climb, get yourselves to Spa, I doubt you could even measure it with a percentage as it was tiny.

“this is when you need all this carbon” So before carbon you couldn't climb a "hill" on a bike? I could have beaten them up it with a penny farthing.

I don't care how many times you've "driven this track on your gaming console" Of course it was not going to be that difficult, you've sitting there with a control pad not doing exercise.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9361 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 15:42


We're all for cycling getting exposure on TV and i'm certainly not going to take the piss out of anyone for not looking cool on their bike but… letting Polly ride around the Monaco circuit with only a rear brake would not have been much of an advert for cycling if at any point she'd been forced to brake hard that could have been very nasty indeed.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 15:57


They've a response on their blog and their twitter feed says they've sold a few frames since! No mention of the wheel though.


posted by ribena [169 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 16:06


Did they say "laterally stiff, yet vertically compliant"?

That's my fave. Not overused at all. Hell no.

posted by thereandbackagain [159 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 17:50


It's funny they even tied the walkie-talkie to the helmet. That basically stops the air flow of the helmet. Didn't they even study any pro tour video to learn how to mount a walkie-talkie onto cyclist? Or could have just stuff inside the jersey pockets since they aren't carrying other things. From the video it wasn't very clear, but the two seems like on MTB shoes. Correct me if I am wrong.

Ti Yam

posted by yamiya [2 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 19:12


Here's Pollyanna falling off a mountain bike (albeit one with a novelty caterpillar track fitted).

She falls off, fair enough, but then gets back on with the handlebars spun through 180 degrees.

About the 4:30 mark.

posted by j1mmy76 [66 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 19:49


following on from: posted by yamiya [1 posts] 3rd May 2012 - 19:12 (sorry peops missed the quote button ... glass of wine)

Their both wearing street sneakers, the design of the shoes is wrong for MTB shoes, also there is no twist when they take their feet off the pedals plus foot position is wrong.

RhysW's picture

posted by RhysW [83 posts]
3rd May 2012 - 21:56


The strange thing is that they did a proper test a year ago. Have a look at this:


In that you see Ottis using proper shoes, the wheel on the right way round and some of the tech being explained. I guess for the piece above they just shipped out a bike.

Even so I'd have thought that somebody who could operate either a camera or sound recording kit would have enough basic appreciation of mechanics to see that the wheel was on the wrong way round.

posted by FixedBroken [2 posts]
4th May 2012 - 2:40


She let him win didn't she! Cos she knew he would sulk afterwards? Certainly painful to watch but good to see cycling get a rave review even if it is from F1 wanabee's. VERY High grade carbon sounds great! You realy need VERY high grade carbon especially up hill... Priceless; theres me going out training rain or shine when all I need is VERY high grade carbon...and £22,000

posted by SideBurn [913 posts]
4th May 2012 - 4:27


Thinking I noticed the wheel, but thought that maybe the editing guy had got the footage muddled, but when I heard the "peculiar braking" comment I knew that something wasn't right. after that I just switched into 'watching Polly mode'. Shame they didn't have Otis back, as he seems to know how to ride a bike...

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [258 posts]
4th May 2012 - 9:00


That was 5 minutes I will never get back, at least Polly was wearing a tight outfit.

posted by endless winter [2 posts]
4th May 2012 - 9:18


All of you referring to a "slight" hill - it's actually surprisingly steep in reality - probably around 7%-8%.

But can't believe they had the front wheel like that...


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koko56's picture

posted by koko56 [335 posts]
4th May 2012 - 16:40


Why why why why why.
Why? because at the Gadget show they, like a lot of armchair cyclists, like bikes. They just don't like riding them or make too many excuses not to. Hence the complete lack of any knowledge on the subject. Still funny as hell though and who would really want to watch a SERIOUS cyclist telling everyone how these new ceramic bearings really make a difference going downhill or how his new sperm helmet saves 15 watts power in a time trial. Ok, I'd watch that, along with a few other hardcore Eurosport viewers, but lets face it, it'll never make terrestrial TV.
This lot are still celebrating Mark Cavendish's Tour de France win.

posted by pmr [193 posts]
4th May 2012 - 21:57


Yeah, Ortis seems to be the only one of the lot of them who might have a clue about bikes. Thanks for the link to his original bit about the Factor; I didn't know anything about that bike and that was actually quite interesting.

I don't usually watch the Gadget Show, but this clip stuck in my mind because of Polly's awful saddle height on TWO bikes in a row: http://fwd.channel5.com/gadget-show/videos/challenge/monopoly-challenge-.... Any wonder she complains about how tired she is (although the flat tyre she somehow didn't notice probably wouldn't have helped either...)?

Like others have said, seeing what they do on bikes made me suspect they know just as little about everything else. But I suppose it is good if they give the impression that cycling is a common activity that one can engage in as naturally as messing about with mobile phone apps. I just wish they'd do it with a modicum of intelligence, so that people would know that if you set a bike up properly, it's not going to be completely knackering to ride.

posted by CapriciousZephyr [87 posts]
4th May 2012 - 22:02


you are not wrong pmr...imagine David Millar explaining how all that computer data is harvested and can be analysed to improve your cycle to work or to the newsagents...could take hours Yawn

posted by SideBurn [913 posts]
5th May 2012 - 10:30


And bring back Ortis

posted by SideBurn [913 posts]
5th May 2012 - 10:32


Have just Google'd Ortis Deley to see what happened to him....oh dear oh dear... Went to Channel 4 to commentate on athletics...onwards and upwards according to Ortis. Suspect he is still saying to himself "I should have practiced reciting their names". Poor chap. Cookdanbombd blogsite tells the tale better than me.

posted by SideBurn [913 posts]
5th May 2012 - 11:08


Just a jolly for the presenters these days............... Thinking

posted by BikerBob [116 posts]
5th May 2012 - 19:43


"Sneakers" !!!!!!

posted by dreamlx10 [148 posts]
8th May 2012 - 11:04